Five years seems so long ago, yet I can still remember it like yesterday. I had just thrown a big "golden" birthday party for Matt. Friday night Shannon and I were in the grocery store getting food for the big party the following day. Shannon asked me if I was feeling okay and I told her I was just tired. I jumped into the party preparations and the party full steam ahead.
Sunday Shannon and I hit a few stores before meeting the person she carpooled with to go back to Ohio. I went home, finished cleaning and finally sat down. It was then I realized that I was having contractions. I was one day shy of 36 weeks. I was supposed to be induced because we lived over an hour away from the hospital where all our specialists were. We took Emily and Chris to the the neighbor's house and left for the hospital at 1am. By the time we got there I was already 4 cm and in full blown labor.
I was terrified. Not of the birth process itself, but of the unknown. We knew Allison was going to be sick and that she had heart issues and potentially some other issues. I remember Matt and I praying together in the car as he drove to the hospital.
Around 9 am on April 29, 2002 I gave birth to a beautiful 5 lb 10 oz little girl. I remember hearing her cry and the team of dr's cheer because that meant she was breathing, a huge thing for a heart baby. They were able to place her in my arms for a few minutes before whisking her away to the NICU. It was an amazing feeling.
On that April morning I remember being full of hope. Today I should be buying cake, and presents and balloons. I should be getting excited because turning 5 means the bittersweet start of kindergarten, losing teeth and learning how to read. But instead I wonder what she would have looked like on this day and would her wish have come true when she blew out the candles?
The next 101 days that followed are still engraved in my memory. Her first surgery at 5 days old, the one and only time we got to try and feed her through a bottle rather than a NG tube, the 32 days in the NICU, the dr visits, our move to a city 3 hours away, our vacation to North Carolina (I thank God for that week of memories), the medicines, waking up every 1.5 hours around the clock to pump or hive her meds, seeing her with my parents and my kids, the hellish 5 last days of her life and holding her in my arms for the last time.
The death of a child is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. When you lose a child a part of you dies too. The pain you feel will never go away. Yes, after 5 years the pain is no longer like a sharp knife twisting into your heart, but rather a dull ache that no matter how much you try will never ever go away. And I rarely talk about it not because I don't want to, but because if I did I am afraid the tears would never stop. I am not some "super woman" as some say. I just do what everyone else would do –– learn how to live again.
Happy 5th birthday Allison. We miss you.
You can see a few more pictures here.
"Some people only dream of angels, we held one in our arms"